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OK, I worked on this quite a bit, and I'm a bit nervous to throw it out there, but here goes.

 

*note, I will be using some DnD terms, but naturally these would be different ingame.

 

Premise:

Of all the RPG games I’ve played, many have failed to deliver on the exploration elements in the wilderness, relying on set-pieces and tedious random encounters. Going into the wilderness, if at all possible, consisted of ticking off certain boxes “quest complete” and moving on to the next area. This leads to the wild areas to be empty of meaningful content pretty quickly, except for said random encounters.

I have in an inspired moment come up with a suggestion which would hope to accomplish the following:

  1. Encourage exploration.
  2. Increase diversity of wilderness content.
  3. Make the world come alive with emergent gameplay.
  4. Avoid undesired content for those who simply wish to pass through wilderness areas without being delayed.
  5. Have more mechanical uses for ranger skills like "wilderness survival" without making them gimmicky.

 

The idea is divided into sections.

  1. The road.
  2. The wilderness
  3. The "wisps" and forest lights.

 

1. The road.

Players can decide whether or not they wish to remain on the road. The roads are well travelled and (relatively) safe. If a player wishes to continue on without exploring, all he or she has to do is remain on the road. Nothing (or little) will happen.

2. The wilderness.

Players can venture off the road. When this is chosen wilderness survival skills will be useful. This might require some creative programming. The idea is that when venturing far enough from the road, the map becomes generated, and finding the road again may or may not be possible. Players would walk around in forest covered areas. (one example) And an area around the party would be cut away and navigable. A wilderness survival or similar skill would determine how fast surrounding foliage is cut (becomes navigable), how fast the track regrows behind the player, and how large a radius around the party is cut.

 

This is to give the player the notion he is walking around in a vast forest (or other wilderness) without permanent landmarks.

In the wilderness several things could be uncovered:

Players may come across hostile spawns, goblin camps, forest traps, hidden treasure. These would be few enough between that a player wouldn't just stumble across it immediately. Returning to the road would be possible using fast travel. (and perhaps a high enough navigation skill)

However, this would not be possible if the player started following a trail of...

 

3. The wisps and forest lights.

The wisps are just a generic name for what are in essence may different types of guiding lights. These lights are different in shape, colour, and behaviour, but stretch out emergent in front of a player's party. Wisps are come across randomly, and should be fairly uncommon. (but common enough that any adventuring party will come across a few at least during their game if they choose to visit the wilderness areas)

Wisps lead places, different wisps lead different places.

Once a party has decided to follow a trail of wisps for a few moments, the following happens.

  1. Fast travel back to the road becomes impossible, you'll have to see it through. (you can choose to not follow a trail in order to avoid that. The game will have to register whether or not you were following it)
  2. Losing the trail of wisps (distance of your closest party member to the trail becomes too great) ends in quest failure.
  3. No encounters with monsters or loot, you're following a trail and it leads somewhere, you won't be distracted.

 

Wilderness survival (or similar skill) will tell players the following:

  • No or low skill: Forest lights exist and they lead places.
  • Low to intermediate skill: following lights can be dangerous.
  • Low to intermediate skill: some lights are worth following.
  • Intermediate skill: Different types of lights lead to different encounters. (I'd love for this to be randomized for each game so no assumptions can be made)
  • Intermediate to high skill: This type of light leads to this encounter.
  • High skill: These are the types of lights and these are the types of encounters they lead to.

Upon following these ghost lights, wisps, foxlights, forest lilghts, glowing mushrooms, whatever, players will be led to an encounter relevant to the type of light-trail they followed.

 

I've come up with a few quest ideas, but naturally many more are possible.

Upon completion or failure of one of these quests (which would be removed from the questpool afterwards regardless) players are returned to the road.

Possible outcomes for following a trail:

  • "spiritual" Players are led to a druidic ritual in a grove, if there are druids in the party, they can assist, if not the player will be able to observe the ritual and guard the druids (or not) as they complete the ritual. If no PC druids participate, you'll see the death of said druids after ritual is completed.
  • "spiritual" players come across a scrying pool in the forest. It shows the player one random vision. (multiple instances possible)
  • "spiritual" players come across a stone henge circle, players with a high knowledge of the arcane can use the circle to learn a powerful ability, alternatively the site could be destroyed with disastrous consequences (deliberately or not). Ideally each site offers multiple ways to experience the encounter. So a stone circle might be seen differently by a wizard than a ranger, or cleric.
  • "trickster lights" leads no-where, party eventually admits they are lost.
  • "trickster lights" leads to a clearing where if the party rests, they are set upon by enemies.
  • "trickster lights" leads to a nymph in her pool, she may or may not torment the party with riddles or tricks.
  • "trickster lights" leads to an Elven feast. When trying to enter the feast clearing, it vanishes, after 3 encounters players are confronted and asked why they keep barging in. multiple outcomes possible, one of which is that they join the feast. If they do, they're subtly (I'm counting on you MCA!) enticed to stay. "oh, right before old george here was about to tell you this ancient piece of lore!" staying might lead to more information, trinkets, but eventually players would figure out they're being duped into staying. After they leave camp, they'll find the road again, alternatively they might decide to stay in camp long enough that they wake up in a compromised position with no elves in sight, leading the party to wonder if it was ever real.
  • "firelights(encounter lights)" leads to a monster to be defeated
  • "firelights" stumble across a bandit camp
  • "homelights" lead to settlements, either hermit houses, the house of a powerful witch or wizard, maybe a sapient monster (I always enjoyed the DnD monster manual description of a Rakshaka, living in a swamp.) You may or may not find yourself welcome.
  • "unresolved issue" lights lead to ancient wrongs you might be able to right, or at least learn about.

 

I've some other quests I thought of shortlisted, I'll just name the title, as I am sure you can think of interesting encounters.

  • "Dead town possession"
  • "wizard's mighty spell"
  • "angry dead"(maybe unlikely what with the soul mechanic)
  • "zombie swamp"(idem ditto)
  • "hermit"
  • "wandering traveller"
  • "mysterious mist"
  • "firefly display"
  • "ancient battle"
  • "ancient ruins"
  • "death pond"
  • "fake trail"
  • "dragon's den"

I believe these encounters and quests would be much more memorable because:

  1. They'll be your main focus, you won't be busy doing other quests in the meantime.
  2. You found them through exploration, making acquiring these quests a reward in it's own.
  3. They'll be unique.
  4. These quests are not forced on you, you will only do them out of a desire to see more of the world.
  5. You can't go back, the experience will be all the more mysterious and special for it.
  6. They reward players for different play-styles in different ways, the wilderness lore/survival trait makes your decisions more informed, but you can also choose to randomly follow trails. So a city-bred party may make more mistakes and find themselves lost once or twice, while still having had an interesting thing occur.
  7. Furthermore they remove a nuisance from the game for those players who don't enjoy random encounters. They'll be random, but unforced.

The player gets to decide how much of this content he or she feels up to doing at any moment. Want to go from A to B? you can. Want to mindlessly or mindfully stumble upon bandits, goblins and treasure chests? You can. And do you wish to get lost in the wilderness and find some special content? You can.

 

What do you think?

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Hmmm... not sure if I like the idea of the forest closing in behind you, sounds like some kind of glorified side-scroller. And while I do like the distinction between staying on the road and venturing into the wilderness, even the roads shouldn't be perfectly safe in my opinion. So are you suggesting that the map be randomly generated in real-time, then?

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Hmmm... not sure if I like the idea of the forest closing in behind you, sounds like some kind of glorified side-scroller. And while I do like the distinction between staying on the road and venturing into the wilderness, even the roads shouldn't be perfectly safe in my opinion. So are you suggesting that the map be randomly generated in real-time, then?

if you go off-road, yes. And I'll leave it in the middle how safe the roads will be, but significantly safer, at least.

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I think the idea seems cool, but is it effective? Is it easy to create?

 

An area that is devoted/designated to this type of thing could be cool though, a mysterious wilderness area stretching across 2-3 map locations that acts like a puzzle and you can't get out of it until you've finished it (Which would make it a linear quest, but perhaps you could solve the "riddle" in more than one way?). When you return later, after finishing it, I think it should be an open area, perhaps with new encounters and new quests. Good way to make use of 1 area more than once *shrug*

 

In Baldur's Gate I felt that many of the "Side"-Areas were "Explore Once" then I never returned to it because I didn't see any need for it.

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I think the idea seems cool, but is it effective? Is it easy to create?

No idea if it is easy to create.

 

An area that is devoted/designated to this type of thing could be cool though, a mysterious wilderness area stretching across 2-3 map locations that acts like a puzzle and you can't get out of it until you've finished it (Which would make it a linear quest, but perhaps you could solve the "riddle" in more than one way?). When you return later, after finishing it, I think it should be an open area, perhaps with new encounters and new quests. Good way to make use of 1 area more than once *shrug*

I would make it open in the sense that you can enter it at any time. but the idea is that going back later would lead to different content and encounters. The forest/world is vast and you wouldn't find your way back without landmarks.

In Baldur's Gate I felt that many of the "Side"-Areas were "Explore Once" then I never returned to it because I didn't see any need for it.

Quite, that's one of the reasons I started thinking about a solution.

 

I'd like to add that I forgot some possible content for #2. You could restore bridges, find (tame?) animals, come across bones, natural obstacles such as quicksand, things like that. the wilderness without the wisps would not be content free, but the wisps part are the more significant quests and encounters, and thus they should stick out.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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I like this idea.

 

However as much as people like me and you would love this and explore everything there are a far larger number of people out there who won't to the extra exploration. 'So what?' you might ask, but sadly content that isn't used is wasted. So while I can get behind saying, 'hey man if it's not for you just skip it. No harm no foul.' from a developer standpoint you don't want to waste money on content people aren't going to see/use. Sadly we're living in a time when most people don't even complete the console games they buy let alone grand 40+ hour rpgs. I'd really like to see this sort of thing implemented but I think from the developers POV it's really just not worth the time/resources to implement so much content in between the content.

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I like this idea.

 

However as much as people like me and you would love this and explore everything there are a far larger number of people out there who won't to the extra exploration. 'So what?' you might ask, but sadly content that isn't used is wasted. So while I can get behind saying, 'hey man if it's not for you just skip it. No harm no foul.' from a developer standpoint you don't want to waste money on content people aren't going to see/use.

in an recent interview it was mentioned that you have to be ok, as a developer, that people will not see all content you create. So I am not worried about that being a consideration.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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I like this idea.

 

However as much as people like me and you would love this and explore everything there are a far larger number of people out there who won't to the extra exploration. 'So what?' you might ask, but sadly content that isn't used is wasted. So while I can get behind saying, 'hey man if it's not for you just skip it. No harm no foul.' from a developer standpoint you don't want to waste money on content people aren't going to see/use. Sadly we're living in a time when most people don't even complete the console games they buy let alone grand 40+ hour rpgs. I'd really like to see this sort of thing implemented but I think from the developers POV it's really just not worth the time/resources to implement so much content in between the content.

I think the sense of achievement from exploration is gone if- as much as you do it- you're still just walking around not being able to see past 20 ft in front of you and waiting for random encounters.

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I'll give this is a careful read later, but I like what you're trying to accomplish. Not sure if random generated areas will add or subtract from the overall goal of the project, which is rich story and tactical combat. It may add to the combat side of things but might take away from story. It all comes down to implementation though so I'll reserve specific opinions for later.

 

What I like most here is how you're trying to add value to wilderness type skills. Instead of lights, maybe a ranger could pick up a trail on the ground much like how thieves detect traps in the old IE games. If a ranger notices something a patch of ground or a tree trunk might become highlighted, and could reveal information to the player. These trails would act as a lure and guide you to areas where people would otherwise ignore.

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I do quite like the idea. I reminds me of The Path (which I recommend playing). However, I can't see how a randomly (or similar) generated area could work given the fact that the area as painted (or otherwise art-made). I don't really see how it could be implemented into this type of game.

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Brown Bear did 18 damage to Squirrel
Squirrel- death

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I would love return of map travel from F2, you got random encounters, you use survival skill to skip them, know whats waiting for you, speed up map travel speed. I would like to see even some permanent locations with small quests which you can find only if you have enough survival skill (in F it depend on your luck atribute). But I also support your idea even if its seems more complex than neccesary

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I think the idea would be difficult to implement, but it sure sounds intriguing. I'll steal your idea for a pen and paper campaign once if its alright with you, much easier to use these things there than in a computer game I think.

You're free to use it. I wouldn't have suggested it otherwise. Let's just say I release this idea under a creative commons license :p

 

About the implementation. Yes, It would probably require that at least part of the game had a different style map. It certainly is possible in certain engines, Warcraft 3 had a type of map where trees could be cut by peons/peasants, and a regrow mechanic seems just to be placing those trees back (with an animation, of coure)

So yeah, you'd probably need a base map, and lots of tree-shaped props with animations that have them grow or be removed. and then you just populate a map with these.

 

That's the trade-off, but I think that would be OK for certain sections, like the wilderness. I also believe that the quests themselves could take place on pre-made maps, which would load (possibly seamlessly, if technology allows) after following a trail towards it. So these spots, while present in the wilderness, would be distinct from it.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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I really don't want to read that text wall, can anyone sum it up for me?

I've truly done my best with formatting. I think a lot would be lost if I did a TL;DR, but here goes.

TL;DR: A map with (large)parts randomly generated, with access to special quests as a reward for exploring.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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Isn't the ultimate reward for exploration uncovering the map though, and this would prevent that from ever happening?

I don't think that's the ultimate reward. in fact knowing the map could decrease your enjoyment since you know what's out there and there is nothing to surprise you anymore.

 

But I'm the type that resents that our planet has been completely mapped already.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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I really don't want to read that text wall, can anyone sum it up for me?

I've truly done my best with formatting. I think a lot would be lost if I did a TL;DR, but here goes.

TL;DR: A map with (large)parts randomly generated, with access to special quests as a reward for exploring.

 

 

I appreciate the effort, Its not your fault Iazy after all. Sounds intriguing.

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I'm shamelessly bumping this because I put a lot of effort into this idea and I hope it gets at least some discussion.

Remember: Argue the point, not the person. Remain polite and constructive. Friendly forums have friendly debate. There's no shame in being wrong. If you don't have something to add, don't post for the sake of it. And don't be afraid to post thoughts you are uncertain about, that's what discussion is for.
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